Nothing so amuses me as watching the molehills of everyday life become mountains of self-righteous outrage on Wisconsin's right. Usually, the indignation dies a quiet death, because in righty space, no one can hear you scream, thank jebus.
Other times, real people get hurt, physically or financially, because some nut or another gets his Hanes in a bunch over something that, left alone, would have hurt no one at all.
The latest is the news that comedian Bill Maher will be in town, sponsored in part by WKLH radio and American TV. Because Maher dislikes religion--he's got animosity for all religions, in equal measure, as it turns out, not mere "anti-Christian bigotry"--some righties are leading a charge against the sponsors. Mike Plaisted and the Illusory Tenant have a good discussion going about just how ridiculous it is.
But I will ask, as is my wont in these situations (I even have a rule named after me just for this!), why Maher is subject to a standard from righty bloggers that others are not.
John McAdams, the Marquette professor (chair of the Department of Outrage, I believe) who is leading the Maher reaction, has a whole category of posts tagged with "free speech" (a tag missing from his Maher posts!) that include things like praise for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for bringing noted anti-Muslim speakers Walid Shoebat and David Horowitz to campus (flashback: David Horowitz hates me!). The bigoted (by the Maher standard) messages of Shoebat and Horowitz are sponsored at UWM by your tax dollars and mine, which to me suggests that they might be afforded greater scrutiny than those sponsored by the commercial enterprises like American TV. (I tend to believe that American and WKLH know the market well enough to make decisions that benefit them financially. They know that Bill Maher is going to make them more money than would be lost from the sad protests mounted by Milwaukee's Perpetually Offended. It's all a part of the belief that the free market knows what's best for itself. If McAdams wants to dispute that, he's welcome to.)
Yet the anti-Muslim speakers get a pass and the anti-Muslim sponsors get kudos because the targeted religion is not McAdams's Catholicism, but Islam. (One wonders if Maher had been booked to play UWM instead of the Riverside whether McAdams would have praised UWM for "bringing controversial speakers to that campus" or still have launched this little jihad.)
And then there's the case of bigots on the blogroll. McAdams, just to the right of the space where he denounces Maher's supposed anti-Christian commentary, permanently links to a blogger who regularly calls Islam the "Religion of Piece (of Arm, of Leg, of Torso)" and mocks celebrants of sacred holidays like "Ramalamadingdong." If anti-religion is the test, McAdams's links fail, miserably.
So it seems to me there's a bit of beam in McAdams's own eye that needs to be addressed before he can reasonably complain about the mote at American TV.
This is the nut, by the way, of the Wright-Hagee--and I would add Rod Parsley to Hagee--controversy that has been all bubbly here on the blog lately. Liberals are held to standards by the right and by the media that conservatives are not. Barack Obama and John McCain are not being treated equally at all. And don't give me that "Obama knew Wright for 20 years" crap--McCain, knowing Hagee's and Parsley's views, actively sought their blessing and their spiritual advice, and he continues to relish the endorsement of those two clear bigots without facing any media scrutiny.
The McCain camp knows exactly what they are doing with this, too: They know that the John McAdamses of the world will vote for McCain regardless of what anti-Catholic horse they hitch the "Straight" Talk wagon to (as far as I can tell, McAdams has not written a single word about Hagee, and neither has Patrick Dorwin, whose BadgerBlogger is helping to attack American TV). However, McCain's people know that some voters in key states like Ohio and Florida will veer to a third party or just stay home if they don't hear the dog whistles from Hagee and Parsley. It's a calculated pander, like Hillary Clinton's insistence on rolling back the federal gas tax--it's a stupid idea but apparently it polls well in Indiana. Clinton is willing to take an image hit among people who will vote for her over McCain anyway in order to score a few thousand votes in the tight Indiana primary tomorrow.
However, in keeping with the theme, Clinton is getting nailed for this pander while McCain keeps getting a pass. See also the "McCain Flag Lapel Pin Watch." Or the "McCain's hiding assets" watch. Or the "McCain's got lobbyists running his anti-lobbyist campaign" watch. Or the "McCain's lying about Democrats and health care" watch. And so on.
I do not expect the media to turn around and apply the same level of scrutiny to McCain as to Obama and Clinton any more than I expect John McAdams or Patrick Dorwin to chastise the vulgar anti-Muslim bigots on their blogrolls the way they have American TV. But as long as I have this small microphone, I will never let them forget that they are hypocrites.